The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, forecasting 4 to 8 hurricanes. As you consider stories during hurricane season, which officially started June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30, be prepared with these resources from the University of Houston. These sources have expertise in a variety of topics related to storms – before, during and after. If you are unable to reach a professor, contact UH’s media relations office.
FOOD AND WATER SAFETY WHEN POWER IS OUT
After the storm, how long can food stay fresh when the power is out? What can you do to protect food in your freezer? Nancy Graves and Sujata Sirsat, both professors with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, can answer questions about food and water safety, as well as discuss planning nutritious meals with what’s in the pantry, in the event of an extended power outage. Reach Graves at 713-743-2426 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Sirsat at 713-743-2624 or email@example.com.
It’s never safe to drive during the storm, but for some, staying put is not an option. Industrial engineering professor Gino Lim has been testing a program that will allow emergency crews to use a web-based application to locate flooded streets, allowing them to safely maneuver around them during emergency calls. For more information on his project, visit http://e2map.egr.uh.edu/?cat=9. Reach Lim at 713-743-4194 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEDERAL AND STATE EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROCESSES
Maria Burns, director for the UH College of Technology Center for Logistics and Transportation Policy, has background in crisis management, emergency response, crowd management and safe transportation. She has written two books that address preparedness for extreme weather and other security threat types. Burns can discuss the federal and state emergency response processes for hurricanes, and the role of the U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA and other governmental organizations. Reach her at email@example.com or 713-743-1194.
KEEPING ANXIETIES AT BAY
For many who endured hurricanes like Ike and Sandy, another round of storms brings with it another round of anxieties. Cecilia Sun, a counseling psychologist and assistant director of UH’s Counseling and Psychological Services, can address how to cope with the emotional aspects of traumatic events. Anka Vujanovic, an associate professor with the psychology department and director of the Trauma and Stress Studies Center at UH can also address the issue. Reach Sun at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-5409 and Vujanovic at email@example.com or 713-743-4873.
PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER: SAFETY NETS KEY FOR MEDICATION
Pharmacy professor Marc Fleming can offer tips on precautions people should take to ensure they have access to needed prescription medication during hurricanes or other natural disasters. He also can discuss a state law that can provide a safety net for patients, along with other medication-related preparedness tips. Reach him at MLFlemi2@central.uh.edu or 832-842-8388.
IDENTIFYING EVIDENCE OF PAST HURRICANES THROUGH ANCIENT CLIMATE RECORDS
Don Van Nieuwenhuise is director of the Professional Geoscience Programs at UH. His team uses multiple sources of data to develop a fingerprint of geochemical, biological and sedimentological variables from known hurricane events, which will allow identification of subtle hurricane deposits to determine accurate hurricane and climate cycles before 1850. Recent studies used high-tech sediment and geochemical analyses and microbiota to identify hurricanes in Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay sediments from an unnamed hurricane in 1933, Hurricane Beulah (1967), Hurricane Celia (1970) and Hurricane Allen (1980). Current research is also looking at how the differing magnitudes and impacts of ancient storms can be determined by the same data. Reach him at 713-743-3423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHELTER FROM THE STORM
In times of crisis, the hospitality industry recognizes a responsibility to those escaping the storm. Carl Boger, a professor with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, can address how hotels manage the crisis for the weary traveler. Reach him at 713-743-2610 or email@example.com.
RIGHT INSURANCE POLICIES, UNDERSTANDING THE LAW KEY TO PROTECTION
Robert B. Johnson, director of Continuing Legal Education at the UH Law Center and attorney licensed to practice in Texas, can discuss what type of insurance is needed for hurricane coverage. He can talk about FEMA’s national flood insurance program, offer tips on steps to take before a hurricane or tropical storm hits, what to do afterward if property damage is sustained and explain why residents in coastal counties may need separate policies for windstorm damage. Johnson also can discuss the topics of price gouging before and after hurricanes, as well as complaints involving repairs, landlords, insurance and other legalities involving damages after a storm. He can also speak about the procedures of justice court (formerly small claims court) and how regular people can enforce their rights when they can’t afford an attorney. Reach him at 713-743-2063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MITIGATING DAMAGE, RAPID RECOVERY
Cumaraswamy “Vipu” Vipulanandan, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT), deals with how to mitigate damages to structures, transportation facilities, power grids, water, wastewater and oil pipelines, as well as how to protect coastal areas during extreme weather conditions. A multi-infrastructural model for coordinating the efforts of various entities for rapid recovery after a hurricane or a major disaster is being developed. THC-IT’s eighth-annual “Hurricane and Major Disaster Conference” will be held Aug. 5 at UH Hilton. Reach him at 713-743-4278 or email@example.com.
THE BUSINESS OF STORM PREP
Planning is key for businesses that want to weather the storm. Backing up files and communicating with employees about recovery efforts are among the suggestions from the UH Bauer College Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They promote the concept of “business resilience” to their clients as a way to help small business owners make the connection between preparing now and remaining in business after a storm or other adverse weather event. Reach the SBDC’s deputy director Jacqueline Taylor at 713-752-8473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE ECONOMICS OF DISASTER RELIEF
Thomas DeGregori is an economic development expert, who has written about and been an adviser on disaster relief for 50 years. His primary interests are agriculture, food supply and hunger. His work has taken him to Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, having been involved in policy advising on agriculture and science policy for aid organizations in the U.S., U.K. and governments in developing areas. DeGregori helped mobilize long-term recovery efforts in Africa during a number of past disaster interventions, including the floods in Mozambique. In light of the emergence of the Zika virus, he also is available to discuss his advocacy of expanding the use of DDT in vector control programs for controlling the mosquito population. Reach him at 713-743-3838 or email@example.com.
HOTELS AS A PORT IN THE STORM
Fernando Cuéllar, general manager of the Hilton University of Houston, has 40 years of experience in the industry. He rode out Hurricane Rita in 2005 as the general manager of the Renaissance Hotel in Greenway Plaza with 185 guests and employees, as well as 30 pets. He helped make a shelter out of one of the ballrooms, supplying it with bottled water and snacks, where they waited until the winds died down. In 2008, he weathered Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans as the general manager of the Marriott Hotel in Metairie, by Lake Pontchartrain, where he also hosted several police officers from the parish and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-531-6310.
SALT MARSH EXPERT
Steven Pennings, a professor in UH’s department of biology and biochemistry, is an expert in community ecology and conducts his research in the coastal wetlands. Pennings also is conducting research on the impact of sea level rise and erosion on coastal salt marshes, and has studied the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on marshes in the Gulf Coast. He is available to discuss hurricane damage to coastal wetlands. He can be reached at 713-743-2989 or email@example.com.
LEGAL MATTERS ASSOCIATED WITH STORMS
Richard Alderman, professor emeritus and director of the Center for Consumer Law, can discuss topics such as price gouging before hurricanes and consumer complaints about repairs, landlords, insurance issues and other legal matters involving damage to homes, trees and businesses in the aftermath of a storm. For a telephone or email interview with Alderman, contact Lisa Merkl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-743-8192.
A SOLAR-POWERED ALTERNATIVE WHEN POWER GOES OUT
Seamus “Shay” Curran, director of UH’s Institute for NanoEnergy, has developed a portable solar-powered generator that can be stored in a garage. When the power goes out, the unit can be pulled out, the solar panels unfurled and power is generated. Unlike a diesel generator, it is quiet and emissions-free. To learn more about this innovative technology and see a demonstration of the prototype, reach Curran at 713-743-3565 or email@example.com.